Don't Ask Taxpayers To Subsidize Religion

Readers write

January 27, 1991

From: Kenneth A. Stevens


On behalf of the Howard County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, I urge deletion of the $386,000 that has been requested by the superintendent to pay for the transportation of children to parochial schools.

It is somewhat alarming that, with the county's budget in such trouble currently, this request represents an increase of almost 40 percent over the current authorization.

We restate our previously expressed view that the sections of the county law on which this request is based violate the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and our concurrence with the 1981 opinion of the county solicitor (No. 81-45, Oct. 16, 1981), which said that these sections "appear to be constitutionally defective" and "would most likely be stricken on constitutional grounds in the event of a legal challenge."

That law, by the way, mandates busing of parochial school children only along public school bus routes and does not require the extent of busing aid that the county is currently giving five parochial schools.

We note that, according to our analysis of the figures, the amounts requested for transportation for fiscal year 1992 come to $253.19 per public school child and $584.85 for each parochial school child under this strange program. Surely, there is no way to justify that.

We also hope you will clarify a few things.

Has the Glenelg Country School requested to be the sixth non-public school to receive the benefits of county busing? And what is the Chapelgate Academy that is mysteriously mentioned on page 5-1 of the budget request book? Is this a new religious school that is also seeking busing aid from county taxpayers?

It's easy to see that this budget item is escalating quickly and, considering the number of other non-public schools in the county, hard to see where it might end.

If the Board of Education would simply refuse to request funds for the implementation of a law that the county's own lawyers say is probably defective, you can stand up for county taxpayers who object to being required to finance somebody's religion and ensure a long overdue court test regarding this matter.

You can save us some money that can be more properly spent elsewhere or used to balance the budget.

Editor's note: The writer is a coordinator of the Howard County chapter of the ACLU of Maryland.


From: Susan Houck


I am sorry The Howard County Sun elected to choose as its cover story ("High school pacifists face hostilities on the home front," Jan.20) an article about the Atholton students who went to march for peace in Washington, D.C.

I didn't object to the article, just the judgment of the editor to run it as a cover story four days after the United States went to war.

As a parent and friend of many who have been deployed in Saudi Arabia since Aug. 6, I found it insulting. Thetroops have been there to protect our peace.

Thank God we all have the freedom of opinion, but certain judgments of editorial staff should show common sense.

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